Instruction is a pretty good teacher, but you rarely forget the lessons you learn from Experience. When I got into the University as an Undergrad, I had a lot of medical friends who kept throwing the phrase ‘Problem-Based Learning’ (PBL) about. I understood the meaning of those words individually but as a phrase, it didn’t make much sense until many months later. These friends had researched their University choices to find out which schools trained Doctors with this pattern. I went into a social science course and I fully expected to be taught everything I needed to know. I had achieved decent A’ levels and I was ready to be taught the art of Architecture.
I was unpleasantly surprised to find out this was not to be the case Some other Universities had specific modules that dealt with learning the necessary programs, as part of the curriculum. At my Uni, we were not told that we would not be taught; we were just given a brief and asked to design in any way we wanted. I had come in with the old-school technical drawing skills (which many people still used 15 years ago) and I confidently used what I had to present my ideas. Some of my colleagues had A’ levels in graphic design and Fine Arts, and we were all competing for the same grades. It was at the end of my 2nd year that I felt a need to move on with the times, despite achieving a respectable 2:1 average. Even though we hadn’t been asked to present our work graphically, I noticed the tutors seemed more interested in the designs that had more graphical appeal. Asking for help hasn’t always been easy for me. Being the firstborn in my father’s house, I am used to leading and helping others instead of being helped. I guess I don’t really like the vulnerability or weakness it seems to project.
When I finally summed up the courage to ask some colleagues for help, no one wanted to help me. I found an Uncle who offered to help but after my first lesson, he suddenly seemed unavailable. I later found out he expected payment – but he hadn’t said anything to me. I would see my colleagues working with the program and ask if they could show me a particular function, but their response would be that they were not sure and they wouldn’t want to teach me the wrong thing. I was very discouraged and started to worry about how my work would compare to others at the end of the term. I wasn’t bold enough to play around on the program myself. I eventually got through that phase and learned the necessary tools, but it seemed to set me back a little as I felt I was always playing catch-up. I wished I had asked for help earlier though.
There was also a time when I felt the need to go to my Pastor to ask for prayers concerning my studies. I had every right to do so, and I knew he would not refuse me, but I kept feeling it would be shameful because my Parents are Ministers in the same assembly. Why should I need to go to my Pastor when I live with a Pastor in the house? It was a real struggle for me and I begged God to help me. In that instance, God had mercy on me and my Pastor randomly called me out during a service and asked the whole church to pray for me. I received the particular breakthrough that I needed, but I knew that I hadn’t yet passed that module in God’s curriculum.
A decade later, and I am newly married. I had been taught to expect challenges in marriage but it didn’t really occur to me that God also adopts the PBL process. You ask to be humble, and He throws you into a situation where your natural reaction would be pride. I didn’t find asking for help any easier as a married woman. It wasn’t just about me being vulnerable now (my first excuse), I also had to think of my husband’s image and what people would say or think of us as a couple. My every move was now a reflection of his husbandry skills. So, even though I had questions on a variety of issues, I genuinely didn’t feel it was okay to ask for help. I struggled with being a stay-at-home mom, I struggled with the endless demands of cooking and laundry, and even with maintaining a positive outlook on life when many boxes on my ‘goal list’ were yet to be ticked.
I didn’t have a problem when it came to complaining in prayers though. I was very good at blaming God for everything; but I have always firmly believed that if I am going through it, then God has allowed it and I can get through it.
Once I was done complaining one day, I finally asked God what he was trying to teach me. My Pastor re-iterated God’s answer recently by saying we were not made to be sovereign. Everyone needs help once in a while and it’s okay to ask.
So, I began the search of who to ask and God helped me. My biggest challenge was being willing to ask, knowing that I may get ridiculed or mislead, or worse ignored. That was my PBL lesson. Making that decision released my burden of perfection. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still aiming for 110% in everything I do, but if I don’t hit the mark after giving it my all, then I’m okay with that.
So, what problems did God allow to come your way in 2019, and what lessons have you learned from them? We all have those things that we’d rather no one else knows about, and some of those things should stay between you and God; But if for any reason you are between a rock and a hard place on a particular matter, guess what? It’s okay to ask for help. It doesn’t make you weak (male or female) when you ask, it just makes you human. It’s part of our intricate design. So, take a leap of faith and trust the All-Knowing God to lead you to the help you need, now and in the years ahead.
I hope you had a Merry Christmas and I wish you an exciting New Year.
Just being me,